Female on the Beach (1955)

[Note: The following review is of a non-Guide for the Film Fanatic title; click here to read more.]

“A lone female on the beach is a kind of a target — a bait, you might say…”

FOTB Boat Shot

Synopsis:
Widowed Lynn Markham (Joan Crawford) wants nothing more than to be left alone in her new beach house, where the previous tenant (Judith Evelyn) mysteriously fell from the porch to her death. Meanwhile, Lynn’s hunky neighbor “Drummy” (Jeff Chandler) — who may have had something to do with Evelyn’s demise — makes moves on her; Drummy’s manipulative “aunt” (Natalie Schafer) and “uncle” (Cecil Kellaway) hope to be able to fleece Lynn in card games; and Lynn’s realtor (Jan Sterling) — who has a secret crush on Drummy — keeps showing up at her doorstep.

Genres:

  • Cecil Kellaway Films
  • Con-Artists
  • Jeff Chandler Films
  • Joan Crawford Films
  • Murder Mystery
  • Widows

Review:
Of the countless films Joan Crawford starred in during her lengthy career, Peary only lists 19 as “must see” viewing; Female on the Beach isn’t one of these, but it should be. This deliciously campy thriller was panned upon its release (Bosley Crowther complained about the “hackneyed script and the artificiality and pretentiousness of Miss Crawford’s acting style”), but has since become a minor cult favorite. 50-year-old Crawford (you’d never know it) is at her inimitable best, showing off her gorgeously preserved gams as she struts around her beach house, vacillating between an embittered desire to be left alone, a rising attraction for the undeniably hunky Chandler, and — once she falls headlong in love — concern for her own safety. Schafer (Mrs. Thurston Howell on “Gilligan’s Island”) and Kellaway add a comedic touch to the proceedings, while supporting-actress Sterling is as reliable as always. Chandler — apparently hand-selected by Crawford — is perfectly cast as “Drummy”, an orphaned gigolo with a harsh past; it’s to his credit that we feel sympathy for his plight from the very beginning. Perhaps most enjoyable, however, is the near-constant stream of slightly racy and/or quippable lines (see below for a generous sampling); with exchanges like these, it’s hard not to giggle in vicarious delight.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Joan Crawford as Lynn Markham
    FOTB Crawford
  • Hunky Jeff Chandler as “Drummy” Hall
    FOTB Chandler
  • Natalie Schafer as Queenie Sorenson
    FOTB Schafer
  • Jan Sterling as Amy Rawlinson
    FOTB Sterling
  • Many surprisingly racy quotes and exchanges:

    Lynn: “I have a nasty imagination, and I’d like to be left alone with it.”

    Drummy: “Whenever I wake up a beautiful girl, I always make her breakfast.”

    Queenie [to Drummy]: “It’d be an act of kindness for you to offer her your friendship — all of it.”

    Drummy [after emerging from a swim]: “I guess I’d better think about getting some clothes on, huh?”
    Lynn: “Oh, I’m broad minded…”

  • Robert Hill’s campy, quote-studded script:

    Lynn: “I was on an island once; they all look alike — round.”

    Lynn [to Drummy]: “You must go with the house — like plumbing.”

    Lynn [to Drummy]: “You’re about as friendly as a suction pump.”

    Drummy: “I don’t hate women; I just hate the way they are.”

    Lieutenant Galley: “Give my regards to Drummy; he’s very tall, isn’t he?”

    Lynn [to Drummy]: “I wouldn’t have you if you were hung with diamonds upside down.” (???!!!)

Must See?
Yes, for its status as a campy cult favorite.

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